6 June 2024

Seoul, South Korea – South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun, best known for his role in the Oscar-winning film “Parasite”, was found dead Wednesday in an apparent suicide, Yonhap news agency reported.

The actor was discovered inside a vehicle at a park in central Seoul, Yonhap reported, citing police.

An ambulance (L) carrying the body of South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun leaves a park in central Seoul on December 27.//AFP

Police investigate a car in which the body of South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun was found at a park in central Seoul on December 27.//AFP

Lee, 48, had been under police investigation over his alleged use of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.

Once celebrated for his wholesome image, local news outlets reported that the actor was being dropped from television and commercial projects following the scandal.

A graduate of South Korea’s prestigious Korea National University of Arts, Lee made his acting debut in 2001 in a television sitcom titled “Lovers”. He later won acclaim for his performances in a variety of roles, including a charismatic chef and a diligent architectural engineer who learns his wife cheats on him.

Globally, he is best known for his portrayal of the wealthy and shallow patriarch in director Bong Joon-ho’s 2019 Oscar-winning film “Parasite”.

His last film, this year’s horror flick “Sleep” — in which he played a husband whose sleepwalking eventually leads to horrifying circumstances —  was well-received critically and featured in the Critics’ Week section at the Cannes festival.

This picture taken on December 23 shows South Korean actor Lee Sun-kyun arriving at a police station in Incheon for his police questioning over his alleged use of marijuana and other psychoactive drugs.//AFP

He briefly spoke to reporters in late October before entering an Incheon police station to meet with investigators. “I sincerely apologise for causing great disappointment to many people by being involved in such an unpleasant incident,” he said at the time.

“I feel sorry for my family, which is enduring such difficult pain at this moment. “Once again, I sincerely apologise to everyone.”

South Korea has extremely tough laws on illegal drugs, with even Koreans who take drugs like marijuana legally abroad risking prosecution upon returning to their home country.

This year, President Yoon Suk Yeol called for more stringent measures to eliminate drug traffickers, saying the country was no longer “drug-free”.

He is survived by wife and actress Jeon Hye-jin and two sons.

by Agence France-Presse